scope creep

One of the honors my church has given me in the last few months is the privilege of writing study notes to go along with the Sunday Sermon. These notes are then available for use by home groups that meet throughout the week. We’ve been working through 1 Corinthians, and today I’m supposed to be working on the “how do you build on Paul’s foundation” part of chapter 3, but I’m stymied because of how hard this section pulls on my heartstrings. Build the church, man. That is what I am about.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

The second time I went to school to learn to be a minister was much better than the first. It was thicker, richer. And one of the first things that I realized was that my charismatic, independent, localized vision for the church was just too small. It didn’t even cover richness and breadth of the interconnected networks of secular society, and the church is greater than that.

Look, Nebuchadnezzar saw it. Daniel tells us his vision about the layered statue, with the golden head and clayey feet. The statue represented the governments of nations, and the stone which destroyed that statue was Jesus Christ. But what is the mountain that came from that stone, if it isn’t the church?

The shape of that mountain is important. It’s a single mountain that covers the entire earth. As I realized once in a conversation with some Mormon missionaries, it’s a single mountain, not a mountain range. So Daniel 2:” the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” No interruptions. That casts down any assertions that there was a true church, which stopped, and then an intermediate period with no church, or a false church, followed by a restored true church.

At the same time, the mountain is a good deal bigger than the statue. It’s a mountain, not a hill, so it’s taller than the statue, and it clearly covers more ground. I take that to mean that it lasts longer through the generations (hello? forever?), and that it touches more of society. Local congregations, private associations, friendships, national governments… all of these things, inasmuch as they are real and valid ways for people to relate to each other and work together and form a society, will be subsumed in the world-mountain that is the church.

All of it. I can’t read the news without my vision of the church getting bigger. I can’t read about economics without my vision of the church getting better. I can’t think about business, or logistics, or farming, without my vision of the church getting bigger.

And here’s Paul talking about building the church, like it’s all okay. Now, it’s not enough to be a component of God’s active retrofit of all of human civilization, he wants me (us) to build it. That’s exciting. It’s astounding. And it’s not too daunting, because as best I can tell, the church universal is still only made up of the church local. I build up the church by building up my church.

And, hey, look. I get to help build the church by writing review questions for a sermon about building the church. The challenge is following the sermon, and not the pictures in my head. (And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here…”) Talk about scope creep!

Five Years and Counting

I can’t believe that Kyle and I have been married for five years now. If feels like it’s been both longer and shorter at the same time. We have already gone through so many changes together and are about to go through Army life together; time truly goes by faster than we expect. I am so blessed to have him as part of my life. He has been a wonderful husband for me and I thank God for such a special person to spend my life with. I just wish that he was here right now. May the Lord bless your day, and if you are with your loved one, go ahead and smooch and squish them in honor of our anniversary.

Pictures from our wedding can be found in the gallery.

Time Keeps on Slipping Into the Future

I cannot believe how inattentive I can be sometimes. In my defense I am now taking care of two little boys and the toddler is very active. Still, I do believe it is long past due to give an update for family and friends on what’s going on in the lives of the Frenches.

Firstly, Kyle has completed basic training for the army and is currently in his third week at officer training school at Fort Benning, GA. Continue reading “Time Keeps on Slipping Into the Future”


Ten weeks and two days until KB leaves for approximately six months. He will have nine weeks of basic training followed by twelve weeks of officer’s training down in Ft. Benning, GA.

We also have eleven weeks and three days until the expected arrival of our newest addition to the family. Seeing as stress levels are going to continue to mount between now and then (especially since I can have up to twenty children on my case load), I would not be surprised if these two countdowns actually end up being closer together than they are.
Continue reading “Tick…tick…tick….”

One side or the other

Since I don’t bother with news from conventional sources, I learned this morning from Doug Wilson that there are folks in Congress actually considering passing a bill that permits open homosexuality in the military, along with his analysis that passing such a law just flips whose activities are illegal. If sodomy is permitted in the military, then Christians who agree with God’s word on sodomy are not. One of us has to be banned to let the other in.

To this I have to add only two thoughts:

  1. November.
  2. Please pray for me as I’m joining the army, that this sort of evil will not go through. And if it does, pray that I’ll have the courage to say what needs to be said at appropriate times, despite the consequences.

What a Rotten Night

David was up every half hour from around 7:30, when he went to bed, until 2:00 , when he had a seizure. Then we took an ambulance to the hospital, where they took a blood sample and told us about what you’d expect: “Wow, that was awful”, and that we should take him to a neurologist, which we already had scheduled. We got back home at 5:45 and took a nap until about 7:15.

I’m going to be a bit frazzled today, I think.

I have an essay now in my mind about the relationship between sin and sickness, but I doubt I’ll have the time.

Need Career Advice

God’s purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower!

The house fell through. That’s the first thing you need to know. The second thing is that we’re going to have another baby.

When Gideon was confronted by an angel with the task of throwing out the Midianites, he asked for a turn of Providence to make his path clear: He’d throw out a lamb fleece with a challenge: one night, make the the dew fall on the fleece, but leave the ground dry. The second night, make the ground all dewy, and the fleece dry. There’s been a lot said lately against the use of “fleeces” in determining the will of God, but I find that, understood correctly, a fleece can be a very useful thing. In Gideon’s case, attacking the Midianites would have been a very, very foolish thing – apart from a miracle of God. So asking for a little token miracle in advance seems quite reasonable. Of course, most of us aren’t putting our necks on the line for a miracle, so asking for a sign on the same order of the miraculous would be a little presumptuous.

But what’s wrong with taking a few hints from Providence? For instance, if God makes a path clear for you to buy a house, it seems reasonable to conclude that you ought to live there for a year or two. In fact, only sheer bullheadedness would make you even consider taking up a chance to move. On the other hand, not buying a house… makes mobility more of an option. So it is clearly possible by a house to be fleeced. Continue reading “Need Career Advice”

No Other Fish

Okay. So I should have been blogging on the house all along. Apparently, buying a house is way more interesting than joining the army, because the response on the last post has been off the charts. (It probably also has to do with the fact that I specifically asked for advice – for which I am very grateful.)

But I wanted to address a line of thinking I’m having a hard time with, but which seems to be very popular. It’s the “lots of good fish in the sea” argument.

Skipping over for the moment the fact that I’m not sure I want to compare buying a house to finding a wife, and the fact that the “plenty of fish” model didn’t really help my romance life in the first place, the truth is there aren’t all that many good fish in our part of the ocean. There are lots of bad fish, and a few really rotten ones, and only one or two fish that are passably acceptable. “Good fish” are out of our range.

Whenever we talked about eventually buying a house Valerie and I have always imagined that we would get something in the average to fair condition range, something of a fixer-upper in need of a few modest repairs that could be done over time while we lived in the house. We’ve never been interested in “flipping,” or in new houses with springy carpets and crown molding.

We also have a limited purchase range, because of our school loan constraints. The money we have available for a mortgage payment is essentially the same as the market rate for a 2-bedroom apartment. Any more than that, and we don’t have anything extra for repairs or for paying down debt at an accelerated rate.

Within those limitations, it shouldn’t be a surprise that every house we’ve looked at has been a foreclosure, and all foreclosure homes have difficulties. It just so happens that this particular house is the best on the market for our price range at this time. There are no other fish. If we don’t buy this house, we rest for a few months, and then we rent. We save up, and try again the next year.

We do want to make sure we get the best possible deal in the process of buying the house, and there are legitimate concerns that absolutely must be corrected if we are to buy. If we really do come to the conclusion that the problems are not worth the risk, we are absolutely willing to just walk away. I can do that. Really.

But to return to the dating model, there’s a difference between amicably ending a relationship that is clearly not going to result in a happy marriage, and dumping a girl at the first sign of trouble. There are steps to go through, even in a buyer’s market, and I want to go through them.

Need House Advice

Hi folks. I need some advise on this house we’re looking at buying.

When we first decided to make an offer on the house, we had an inspector come and inspect the house. Essentially the original house is in fine condition, apart from cosmetic needs like carpet and paint, but the addition, which is two floors and includes the entire kitchen, was in the words of the appraiser “all wrong.” There was wiring and plumbing funkiness, the wrong kind of insulation, wrong kind of studs, etc. But most importantly, we were told that 1/4 of the foundation under the addition was essentially nothing: cinder blocks on card board.

Our realtor advised us that a house with these kinds of problems would not pass FHA appraisal, so we got a contractor at our church to give us an estimate of what it would cost to brink the addition up to code. Estimate in hand, we proceeded with the FHA appraisal, with the expectation that the seller (a bank) would make whatever repairs necessary to pass FHA standards and sell the house.

Sunday we heard back from the appraiser that the house would need two things to qualify for our FHA loan: new flooring and new paint. No mention of any of our concerns about the addition. No mention of the foundation (or lack thereof). I don’t know if that means the appraiser just didn’t notice, if he considered it none of his concern, or if he thought the foundation was actually fine.

So my question: obviously, I’m not buying a house with no foundation. I think there’s a verse in the Bible about that. But I would like to buy this house. So how do I go about ensuring that the addition is in fact safe? Do I simply lay down at the seller that we’ll buy the house if they fix the foundation? Should we get the addition re-evaluated? I’m not sure what the proper way to proceed is, and I’m open to any suggestions.

Final Fallout – Army Enslitment pt. 6

I came home with all these documents about writing essays and getting recommendations, and with questions about how far my life could stretch at one time, and if it was worth it. 6-9 months is a long time. On top of that, the recruiter’s job is to make things happen. So just as I was deciding that officer school was perhaps a bad idea at this juncture, my recruiter came on location at my work in full camo and asked me to meet with his commander that evening to see if we could push through all the paperwork and have my review board by Wednesday. That was Monday. I balked, said it was too fast for my wife. They said it was okay. I scheduled a new day to finish my counseling at the MEPS. I couldn’t do it by Thursday, so I went for Tuesday. This time, no monkey business with the hotel.

Tuesday rolled around, and I got up at some ungodly hour, showered and dressed, and was standing in line with a new set of recruits at 6:00. I went in, documents above my head, put my things in a locker, and headed to the career counselor’s. She smiled at me, remembered my name, looked down at her appointment book and said, “What are you doing here?” The recruiter commander was called. There had been a mistake.

It turns out that Thursday, the one I couldn’t miss work for, was the last day to sign up for Army Reserves for the 2009 fiscal year. Apparently everybody has signed up for the reserves, what with this recession they got going on, and in my dalliance, I had missed the cut. See, this is the part where different departments having different information comes in. The recruiters didn’t know about the deadline until the deadline had passed. Who knows what the MEPS people knew. Thursday, when the recruiters had learned of it, my guy had given me a call to say not to show up on Tuesday. Except he didn’t. I mean, he called, but he didn’t say not to show up. What he did was to leave a message. The message he left was the same message he leaves every time he leaves a message – “Hi this is Sgt. B—-. Give me a call when you get this message.” Since it matched every other message I’d gotten from him, I didn’t realize it was a new message. I’d thought that it was the old message I’d received a week prior. So I’d deleted it. So now, no enlistment at all. The officer option was still open, but with the same misgivings about time.

But it’s not like the Army doesn’t want anybody more in the reserves for all time; just for 2009. So here’s what they did. I came in later and signed up for something called the Delayed Enlistment Program. It’s designed for college students, so they can enlist immediately upon graduation. We picked a career, and dates and locations for basic and tech school. It turned out, after careful research that the only openings available will be for medstaff and civil affairs, which is what I was looking toward in the first place. Of course, it’s all hypothetical, because the enlistment isn’t real. It’s a reservation. Come the new fiscal year, which starts in October, I’ll have to go to the MEPS and start all over again. With any luck, I can avoid the hotel this time.